Edge of Darkness: The Broken Circle

Session 48

After restraining the surviving knight and healing him enough so that he could walk behind Dusan’s horse, the party continued to move toward Cor Ferrea. Unfortunately, the direct route had the group passing through the ruins of a town where a large battle had been held. The taint caused by the echoes of the battle combined with the corruption of the land caused many of the weapons of the fallen to animate and attack the party. The spontaneous formation of some sort of undead creature formed by tumbling bodies of the fallen was the largest threat, and one that spooked the party’s horses… unfortunately including the horse that the captive knight was held behind.

The party made it to the area around Cor Ferrea just after dark. Desperate to make it to safety, the party made the unfortunate decision to try to make it to the Temple of the Three. On the way, some sort of elemental creature formed entirely out of the corruption cursing the land attacked, and nearly incapacitated the group. Even on dispatching the creature, more of them were heard on the road between the party and the Temple.

In haste, the party made their way to the city of Cor Ferrea rather than the Temple. After some initial issues at the gate, Ser Faranor convinced the city’s defenders to let the party in and allow them to rest within the city walls.

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Session 47

The decision was made to split the party into two groups: the first would help the refugees make it to safety, while the second group would scout ahead to Cor Ferrea. This second group, consisting of Takeo, Milaena, Thomas, Simon, Ser Faranor and Dusan, collectively determined that taking the back roads to Cor Ferrea would be a reasonable compromise of speed and stealth.

At one point, at the road junction between Cor Ferrea and (town, filler name “Bollocksvile”), Takeo and Simon noticed a figure hiding in the trees. A quick Resilient Sphere from Simon ensured that the figure was captured and prevented from running… only to discover that it was an approximately twelve-year old boy, tired and starving. The boy, calling himself “Jyk”, mentioned that he was from “Bollocksville”. Jyk quickly reminded the party why “Bollocksville” sounded familiar: it was there that a foreign man (guess who!) persuaded the townspeople that they could pay their 30,000 dekar debt to the fire giant Bloodreaver and his marauding band of ogres by pillaging the temples in town. Jyk was starving because his family refused to take part in the temple desecration and were killed.

After hearing the boy’s story, the party agreed to bring him to Cor Ferrea, where he stood a better chance at survival. Unfortunately, that was not the only stop the party had to make.

On the road to Cor Ferrea, a group of six knights surrounded a wagon full of restrained villagers. A seventh knight, a Knight Inquisitor, was reciting a ritual of purification as two of the other knights advanced toward the wagon with flaming swords. When challenged by Dusan, the knights (whose powers no longer recognized Dusan as part of the order) declared that they had indeed made their way to the monastery where the party was headed in order to take on the source of the corruption. Most of their number fell to what they only called an “enormous nightmare”, and their weapons fell apart rather than scratch the surface of what we know to be Kel’Dan’s anchor to this world. In the midst of that horror, the knights received a “Vision from Rozerus” where they were “Chosen” to free Wayreach of horror… by killing everything that registered as “evil” to their now “blessed” vision. The Inquisitor even confessed to allowing the ogres and Bloodreaver to continue to purge the countryside because it kept their hands clean while reaching the end that they believed Rozerus wanted.

Attempts at diplomacy failed. The former knights moved to set the oil-soaked wagon full of civilians on fire. Dusan advanced and cut the bindings on the civilians. One of the knights with a flaming sword struck him. Chaos ensued.

In the end, only one of the corrupted knights survived. A second who had survived combat was killed by Dragon, who was becoming even more ferocious under the corruption than he had been before. The civilians all survived. The bodies of the fallen knights were burned, their gear collected. The lone survivor is bound and unconscious for the time being.

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Session 46 (Reunited)
Ogres and Giants and Fires, Oh My!

Further Excerpts from the Journal of Malaena Lucidius:

After dispatching the ogres and men guarding the gate, we rode on. We were confronted by the giant Bloodreaver and two more ogres, all of whom held hostages. Bloodreaver demanded to know what we were doing here. Takeo answered that we were their to pay the ransom on the hostages. Bloodreaver laughed (a truly unpleasant sight) and asked, “Which village?” He had apparently taken hostages from all the surrounding countryside, demanding outrageous payment for them. We answered, and received instructions for dropping off the money. (This money, is should be noted, was 300,000 decar of our own. We did not, unfortunately, find a way to get it back.)

We talked for a few moments among ourselves, to try to figure out the best way to proceed. The keep was terrible to behold, desecrated and stinking of dead and rotting things. We decided to attempt to negotiate with Bloodreaver into meeting us halfway (literally), and then attacking. This mad plan actually seemed to work, for a few minutes, despite the release of a pack of winter wolves. The fighting was fierce and bloody, but we had managed to gain a foothold. Until the remaining ogres and a troll—a cleric of an evil deity—charged out of the keep to their lord’s aid.

Things would have gone very, very poorly at this point but for one thing: Dusan managed to manipulate Bloodreaver’s greed. The giant agreed to leave—he had to, since he’d been summoned to the front—leaving his hostages behind him. Dusan gave him a Bag of Holding to slow down his return. The giant and his coterie left, the keep on fire behind them.

We made a desperate search throughout the keep to find the surviving hostages. They were located in the dungeon (of course). A blind Knight of Lumennaire was also captive there. Fortunately, he knew of a secret way out. This was excellent news, as it meant that the forty or so women and children did not have to brave the main hall, which at this point was thick with smoke and fire.

We began the trip to Grimsteer, taking all the hostages with us in that direction. Derek, Wren and Caiden are accompanying them the rest of the way, hoping to persuade them to take their families and head to Cor Draconis before Bloodreaver returns. The roads are very dangerous, it is true, but we’re hoping that at least some of them can make it to safety. None of us are convinced that many would survive the giant’s return.

I travel now with Dusan, Takeo, Simon, and Thomas towards the Temple of the Three. The rest will join us in a few days. I continue to pray that we can save the Temple, that we will be in time.

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Session 45 (Reunited)
Horrors, a Seraph & Ogres

From the Journals of Malaena Lucidius: After the confrontation at the border of Wayreach, we travelled on, unbothered, to a small town named Grimsteer. (The names here are both depressing and accurate, I find.) The town appeared to be all but deserted, and thirteen corpses hung in the square. We learned that six or seven of the dead were the local baron and his men, slain for daring to question the way things have been going in Wayreach. The remaining souls were local leaders—among them, the cleric of the temple of Mirila’ana. The bodies had been hanging for one to two weeks, and the locals could not cut them down—not without the forces in the former baron’s keep slaughtering the women and children held hostage there. The innocents were being held for 30,000 decar ransom, a sum which the town had no hope of raising. Most of their cattle and food had also been taken. My heart aches for them, and I devoutly wish that we had more time to try to provide succor.

We debated whether to save the townsfolk, or whether to ride as quickly as possible to the Temple of the Three, which we have reason to believe will be targeted by..Prince Rashid? My companions are familiar with this name and seem to loathe him. Despite my deep fear for the temple, I cannot but agree with our decision to attempt to save the hostages from Grimsteer. The next morning, we set out.

At Longhawk keep, the walls were guarded by archers, and seven ogres waited within. The fighting was fierce, but those guarding the wall were all either killed or fled. We took a moment to rest before proceeding…

I have been chronicling our adventures over the last few days, while pondering what to say of this strange thing that happened. In the town of Grimsteer, the temple of Mirila’ana was burned. Caiden and Wren were investigating the ruin when they found evidence of a humanoid form buried in the rubble. We dug and pulled the form out. It was a seraph of Mirila’ana, dying of his wounds. He told us that this Prince Rashid had summoned him here and collected his blood, and that several other seraphs were missing. Those learned in the arcane arts came up with several theories about what might be the aim of taking the blood of seraphs, and none of them are pleasant. We must stop this before it is too late!

I find that I am yet again writing of details to avoid describing something of greater importance. Enough! I am not sure what it means, and even less sure that I am worthy, but as the seraph lay dying, he offered me his angelic essence for the remainder of my life. There was no way we could save him, he assured me, though accepting this gift means that he will not rejoin the heavens until I perish. I…accepted this gift. I travel with the Oracle; fight great evil; and fear that I am in over my head. May Mirila’ana grant that I prove worthy of such a gift.

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Session 44 [Reunited]

From the journal of Dusan, son of Bedrich:

We finally set forth from Cor Draconis for the horrors of Wayreach and the ruined monastery. The initial part of the journey, in the county of Draco Nidum, went uneventfully. I confess to a certain amount of anxiety here: I wish only to finish this mission as quickly as possible so that I might be able to devote my efforts to breaking Countess Briartame’s siege of Bloodmark. I have come to regret my decision to have Squire Silversmith remain behind in Maledictus Petram to assist in reconstruction as we made our way to Cor Draconis, but I even upon reflection I cannot find a better option. Perhaps it is just as well; Thorn must be allowed to work on his own if he is ever to be allowed to become a full member of the Knighthood.

As we approached the border into Wayreach County, we found our way blocked: a squad of guards manned a barricade preventing further travel by road. The guards, wearing the colors of a Baroness Ironfist, thereupon issued a verbal warning to return to Draco Nidum. We circled horses and discussed our options at that point. Having seen the desecrated bodies of fellow Knights appended upon the roadblock, I was loathe to simply leave them there; I did, however, present my case to the rest of the group rather than simply do what I felt must be done. Placing the lives of my friends and companions in danger is not something I do lightly, and it was only fair to allow them to make their cases to go around, as well as leaving the final decision to a vote.

I feel the need to explain my actions here, where I can, rather than burden or distract my companions at this moment in time. Given the inattention of Rozerus in these trying times, as the Just One is, due to his actions requiring the whole of his care or due to an act of malfeasance heretofore unknown, unable to give his servants the consideration and responsiveness he has previously bestowed upon them, it would be easy to ignore or simply fail to uphold the minor tenets of my oath to Watcher and Empire. As the cursed State of Trigonum has shown to us, through the actions of its Lord Knight down to the lowest Squire, there will be no punishment from On High for any violation of our oaths: neither the Shield of our Faith nor the Blade of our Wrath will be blunted by the tarnishment of our immortal souls for our Sins against our Oaths or the people we were sworn to protect. I cannot, however, indulge in the excesses allowed by our previously unexperienced leeway in our interpretation of our oaths. I cannot begin to walk the path trodden by Lord Octavian and his minions, or else I would have no moral ground to stand on in opposing his desired ascension to power. As Prophet Brighton the Exalted said and is recorded in the Second Book of Temporal Injunctions: ‘It is not how we act when our father is watching, ready to punish any transgressions, but how we act when we no longer fear punishment that determines the true shallowness or depth of our morality.’ I see no real choice but to hold to the Code of Light as best as I am able to.

As we discussed our options, the watchmen at the barricade loosed an arrow at Dragon . Our discussion came to a halt, and we moved to engage. Within a matter of moments, the enemy, who had provoked the engagement, were routed save for their leader, with whom we opened discussion for terms of surrender. It was there that we became aware of how deeply the Taint of Kel’Dan had permeated the people of Wayreach: all of the soldiers there showed signs of mental stress caused by taint, and their leader had developed a sickly and unnatural fixation on his sword.

Simon conjured a wall of ice to prevent the remaining guards from fleeing as we discussed terms with the leader of the tainted soldiers. As we came to the slow but inevitable realization that we would be unable to adequately negotiate terms amenable to both sides, a call to action on our part came from the most unlikely source: none other than Caiden put forward the notion that the leader of the border guards was too far tainted to be allowed to act freely.

I cannot remember who attacked first; perhaps it was simply inevitable that violence was going to happen at that place and time, and we acted as had been predetermined. Against the martial might of Takeo, Lauren, Derek, and the unbridled bestial power of Dragon, their leader was quickly subdued. After he was stabilized and restrained, we set about implementing the terms of their surrender, gathering weapons from the guards, and all of the relevant belongings of the leader.

From there we set forth. Our route took us near stables just one quarter of a mile past the blockaded gate; there we gathered the horses present to take with us. The reasons for our acquisition were twofold: first, to have horseflesh in reserve should any of our mounts fall in Wayreach, and second, to deny the remaining guards mounts so that we might have longer in Wayreach unmolested by the guards’ superiors.

We are now in Wayreach County. May the Watchers be with us in our mission, for we must succeed or all of Trigonum will fall, and with it, the Empire.

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Session 43 [Reunited]

In time, the party eventually wrapped up the discussion. Demonbane volunteered to go with Will Wolfson into the Blood Plains and attempt to free Duke Ashlane, while the party was to make its way into Wayreach. There, they would look into the newcomer holed up in the Wayreach Temple of the Three and neutralize the encroaching Kel’dan threat in the Monastery of the Inner Eye. After reequipping, the party is staying one last evening in Cor Draconis before heading northeast into Wayreach County.

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Session 42 [Reunited]

A series of Sendings between Lord Demonbane, Caiden, and Dusan allowed the two separate groups to coordinate reunification between the two disparate parties. Caiden, Wren, Simon, and Thomas teleported over to the Heart of the Dragon the next day, and met up with Milaena, Takeo, Derek, and Dusan at The Stone Dragon, one of the main inns in town. The evening consisted of drinking, exchanging information, and more drinking (to deal with the new depressing information).

The next day, the reunited party met up with Lord Demonbane, High Inquisitor Valerian, and Will Wolfson. Demonbane remarked that he had been able to delay Imperial action in Trigonum due to two events distracting the Council of Lord Knights. The first was the actions of Lord Brightguard in the wake of the murder of the High Prophetess, including summary executions, greater reliance on the Red Friars, and subsequent withdrawal. The second event was the chaos in Vallisuvas leading to its ruler, Lord Marcellas, preparing to declare secession from the Empire.

Will had pleasant news for everyone present as well. He was able to unite the Knights Sentinel that had remained out of the Trigonum Civil War and ventured out into the Blood Plains to find the Knights that had followed Duke Ashlane. They were able to find the point where the knights had been ambushed, and followed the trail of blood and detritus to a set of ruins where things called Sinspawn were mobilizing. Duke Ashlane was alive and imprisoned there.

We left off with the party debating their next actions.

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Session 61 [Western]
Tying it Together

With the death of the dragon, the stasis effect on Dragon Mountain began to crumble. One of the victims of this was the wujen that had been stalking us; she was visibly aging as she spat vitriol at the party and prepared to attack.

In a desperate attempt to distract the attacking spellcaster, Culann conjured up the illusion of an aspect of Bahar, pleading with her to calm down. Unfortunately, the wujen saw through the illusion and was filled with rage at what she thought to be blasphemy. Culann was quickly dispatched into a pit of lava.

Attempts by Dusan and Takeo to talk the wujen out of combat failed miserably; the wujen was simply out for vengeance in what little time she had left. As a final play, she attempted to shove Dusan into the pit of lava as well; only a heroic play by Takeo moved him out of the way in time to avoid certain doom.

With combat over, the party rested and spent the next day counting up the treasure to be found in the council chambers. On exiting Dragon Mountain ,messengers approached the party to inform them that Taio Valerian wished to speak with them after they had made it out of the mountain.

In the meantime, Dusan had been in contact with Lord Demonbane through the sending stones. Much had happened in the Empire outside of Trigonum since the party had split, and the civil war in Trigonum had escalated. The countess of Maledictus Petram had taken her forces out and laid siege to the town of Bloodmark, where Thorn had remained to assist in cleaning up the work of the cultists.

Demonbane was headed to Cor Draconis to meet with the party. Soon, Wolfson and the Knights Sentinel would be returning there as well. It was time for the party to reunite and deal with the horrors that had infested Trigonum.

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Session 56, 57, 57.5 (cont) 58
New Oracles, Death, Stories, and Visions (cont)

Stories

With the Herald finally gone, the party had a moment to breath without worry of death finding them around the corner. It was just a matter of waiting for Count Atretheon’s men to arrive.

What were we to do in that time?

Caiden felt a need to go back to the crypt Simon originally found him. If he saw his father there, all-be-it in the fleeting moments before the darkness of oblivion was taking him, he might find answers there.

Knowing he should no longer go anywhere alone, he asked if Wren, or whatever silly name she’s going by that Caiden never remembers, Alice I think, if she’d go with him. Despite her current struggles with the news of her mothers recent passing, she agrees to go with him to be his body guard of sorts, or at the very least, another warm body to help out.

The walk to the crypt was quiet, but lacked the usual death strikes from the shadows the party is accustomed to. It was what some might call ‘peaceful’. The two arrived to find the Shrine to those that died in the Rebellion of Theros as they left it, quiet and calm.

Caiden walked in while Wren watched the entrance. He found the spot Simon found him, right infront of a slab unmarked by names unlike everything else. On it instead was a plaque that read – “Here the hero Aegeus struck down Theros of the Reddened Hand, ending the Rebellion of Theros and saving many lives.” Under that was another inscription – “In memory of the hero Aegeus, who sacrificed his life in battle here to once more save Fellgate from Evil. May Mirala’ana accept his soul as her truest champion.”

Caiden felt the inscription as if there was a meaning there he was missing. There was no date of birth to this champion, but there was a date of his death. It was within a year or two of his own birth. The plaque also bared the mark of the Knights Hospitalers. Having little knowledge outside of the healing arts, Caiden turned to Wren.

“Wren, have you ever heard of the Knights Hospitaler Aegeus?”

She smiled and nodded. “I have heard it at least a dozen times at the Refrain. He existed only as Aegeus, never giving out a last name nor taking one. He was not heard of prior to the Rebellion of Theros so any information prior to that is known only in the tales the other Bards would weave. It was he that struck down the nearly invincible corrupted Knight here in Fellgate. He was aeldri obviously, but never talked of his past. He guarded it close for some reason. Again, many tales are spun as to what his past was. Because of his out worldly good looks and prowess on the battle field, you can image the stories that were told.”

“A lieutenant of Theros escaped the first battle, and according to the stories, swore vengeance for the defeat of his master” Wren continued. “Tales of the two fighting span the next 20 years for them. The two would met and fight, the lieutenant doing what he could to kill Aegeus, Aegues trying to knock him out, capture him, stop him as best he could. Many a battle ended with the lieutenant wounding civilians in order to flee. He knew Aegeus could not let anyone die if he could save them.”

“The tale of Aegeus sadly ends when the lieutenant lured Aegeus back here to Fellgate where it had all began. Of course it was a trap of some kind, giving the lieutenant the upper hand, thus allowing him to kill Aegeus. The tales conflict on this last part, but it’s believed that Aegeus was able to mortally wound the lieutenant before he himself died.”

“From there, the tales told go in many different directions. In one tale, they say the lieutenant killed himself in grief, having killed his arch rival. Another says that he was horribly disfigured in the battle with Aegeus, renamed himself ’The Reaper’, and fled to the blood plains to lick his wounds. In either case, he has not been heard from since.”

Wren continued, “The funeral was attended by thousands. Aegeus had been a miraculous healer. Hundreds of lives he saved in his lifetime by his arts, and hundreds more by his sword arm. He was loved and respected by all. But he was a humble man and never sought leadership. He put others before himself, aways. But the locals of Fellgate and pilgrims to the memorial of Aegeus claim that late at night they would sometimes find a unearthly beautiful woman near the tomb. Sometimes singing, sometimes crying. And sometimes, cherry blossoms were found around the tomb. Particularly odd since cherry trees don’t grow here.”

Caiden thought long on the story she told. The name ‘The Reaper’ was one he was actually familiar with. It was a name the other kids at the orphanage used to use to scare the others. “The Reaper will get you if you’re not good. The Reaper roams the streets and will find you when you’re alone.” they would say. He was known to have been in Phoenix.

The more he thought about the stories, the more he remembered. He was fairly sure the Reaper lived because he heard a story that the Reaper came back to Phoenix and slaughtered a family shortly after the funeral. The rumor was dismissed by the adults of course.

Wren thought a moment, the spoke again. “There was another story about him, durning the 20 years of fighting. It was rumored that he fell in love with a woman he saved from the Reaper. Among the belongs found on him at the time of his death, a ring was found with the inscription “Love is eternal”. The tales say it was meant for a noble woman, princess, or an elven woman that matched his beauty.”

Caiden had a pang in his heart. The story of his family being killed and the vague descriptions of who is father was. It could be him. “The woman could very well have been a peasant.” He spoke softly, then trailing off in the last part “It could have been my mother…”

Wren nodded. “That was another story, but it was mainly believed that the peasants made it up. No one could believe that a man such as him would ever fall for a peasant woman.”

Stories and New Oracles…
Moments later, Wren and Caiden heard rustling outside. The two jumped, ready to strike if needed. Only instead of yet another vicious killer to greet them, Thomas Atretheon appeared in the doorway.

“I’m really sorry to be snooping. But I sensed it was important. So I kinda told my dad you had asked me to come with you…. He wasn’t thrilled, but he agreed. I didn’t know why I was coming, but seeing a grown Knight cry is kind of freaking me out. I gotta help if I can.” Thomas sighed.

“What Knight are you talking about?” Caiden asked cautiously.

“The one standing next to you. He looks rather frustrated by quite happy at the same time.” Thomas responded.

“You can see the dead Thomas?” Wren asked almost as cautiously while still holding Bratirion.

“I can’t say that I know for sure. All I know is what the murderous servant of the Watcher of Betrayal told me just before he bled me and left me to die on that alter. Not exactly the most trustworthy source.” Thomas responded cooly.

“It’s a long story, and one I don’t know very well. You’re the Oracle of Mirala’ana right?” He asks Caiden.
“And would it maybe be okay if I put my arms down now, my lady?” He asks Wren.

“Fine” Wren responded, though she never lowered the bow.

Caiden nodded in response to his question, allowing Thomas to continue, "Well, the Herald said you would come. He was excited about it in fact. Apparently you are on Kal’Dan ’ s list. He’s in the market for a new Oracle. And the Herald thought that you would fill the bill nicely. So you should be careful. It doesn’t sound like it’s really a job you volunteer for. And yes, I can see you and hear you, but I’m talking to the hot girl that wants to shoot me and the Oracle of Mirala’ana. Little busy at the moment.”

Caiden and Wren looked at each other, then back to Thomas. “Who are you talking to Thomas?” Caiden dared to ask, “Unless you have your own Seraphim”.

“Why would I have a Seraphim? " Thomas asked. "And good question. Who am I talking to Ser?” He listens and then does a double take. "No way! Not THE Aegeus? But you can’t be. I’m pretty sure heroes don’t cry.” He pauses a moment, listening. “No, I’m pretty sure you are. How do ghosts cry anyway?”

Caiden looked to Wren, saying dryly “This must be what I look like…”

Thomas listed for some time, nodding. Caiden tried to speak, but Thomas just held out a finger to stop him. "Okay. Ser Aegeus says that you are his son and he has been waiting so long to meet you. So congratulations, I guess?”

Caiden smiled and nodded with just a little pride “If the stories are true…”

“Some of them are at least. He says to tell you his energy is fading. It took a lot out of him to manifest and save you from the penenggalens. And this is apparently the unfinished business he had, so time is growing short.” Thomas continued. "He says that your mother was Talia Farnsworth. And he loved her very much. He kept some belongings under a board in the kitchen of her home. But The Reaper took them when he…. oh. The night you went to the orphanage, so he doesn’t have much to offer for proof of an inheritance, all he has is the story.”

“I really hope I don’t sound as crazy as I think I sound,” Thomas says apologetically. “And hopefully it doesn’t ruin my chances for a possible date?” He asks hopefully and glances at Wren.

Caiden broke out laughing, Wren merely rolled her eyes at him.

“Okay, okay, okay, fine,” Thomas says. “More story.”
Thomas listens for a minute, then shakes his head. “They can do that?”

“Then why would…..OKAY, OKAY. Your father says he wasn’t born on Ondoron.” Thomas continued. "He says that he was a Seraphim originally.”

Caiden looked shocked, “What do you mean, originally?”

“He fell. As in capital ‘F’ Fell. He gave up his immortality to become a mortal. Because the Seraphim have vows about minimal involvement in mortal affairs. And mankind desperately needed help. Despite his mother’s advice, he chose to make the ultimate sacrifice to get involved. There was more to Theros Red hand than history tells. He came into possession of an artifact that corrupted him. An artifact that mortals should not have. It was an ancient circlet that was once worn by Kal’Dan Melir. It forged a link with the Lord of Deceit and gave its wearer power. That’s how Theros was able to raise the army of undead out of nowhere. Aegeus succeeded in striking him down, but the circlet escaped his grip. The circlet has a powerful temptation ability. As a Seraphim, your father could have resisted the pull fairly easily. But his new mortal body, with its passions and desires, betrayed him. He struggled against the temptation, and in the meantime a lieutenant of Theros snatched the circlet and fled.”

“Does that mean he’s the shard of Kal’Dan?” Caiden asked.

“Your father says no. It’s not as powerful as possession of the shard. This circlet merely possesses a portion of his former consciousness and a much smaller investiture of power. The shard you speak of didn’t come to be until after his Aegeus’s death. But if the circlet would find it’s way to the bearer of the Shard, it would likely be disastrous.” Thomas continued. "Your father says he dedicated the rest of his life to protecting mortals and trying to obtain the circlet. Unfortunately, he was killed here. The Reaper deceived him into a trap. Your father says he landed a blow that should have killed him, but it didn’t. Likely the Reaper gave himself fully to the circlet in exchange for one last act of revenge against your father…and his family. "

Caiden almost teared up, and nodded, knowing what that meant.

“It takes a strong will and a humble heart to resist the circlet. It senses the presence of the Shard in the world too, and is likely seeking it out in hopes of rejoining the rest of Kal’Dan’s essence. He says you must finish his life’s work.”

Caiden nodded. “Of course I will.”

“He thanks you….and he says he loves you and is proud of you. He believes in you.” He looks over at a place in space. “I don’t have to hug him or anything do I?”

With that, the spirit departed. The three of them talked of the odd things that just transpired. In the end the three went back to the rest of the group.

Visions…kinda…
After getting back with the others, Count Atreathons men showed soon after. From there they transported us to his keep. It was a great feeling to be somewhere in which people didn’t peel there skin away to reveal floating organ vampires, but then again, we had just gotten there.

We took some much needed rest in our own rooms. Finally…a bed to sleep in.

The next morning, we all awoke in a place much different than what we had gone to sleep in. The area looked like the keep we were in, but it was ruined. In many places, the walls and roof was gone in many places. The sky broiled in dark green clouds and the land seemed dark and twisted. The four of them, Thomas, Simon, Wren, and Caiden seemed to be fine, but the world around them had changed drastically.

The entire town around them seemed to be in ruins. The only thing left was the main keep just up the hill. Where were they to go but there?

As they walked, they noticed large wolves stalk them from the edges of their vision. First one, then three, and before they knew what was happening, eight were following them as they made their way to the keep. Lucky for the party, they did not strike out, but stalked them eerily, closing in the closer they got to the keep.

The main gate was partially open, rubble all around, keeping the door open, but the way hard to go through. The four of them went to the main chamber to find a large man dressed in thick scarred wolf pelts. He form large and scarred as the pelts he wore. His beard long and unkept, perhaps mixed with blood and earth. The man looked up and saw us with an odd hunger in his eyes. As we walked closer, another 4 wolves came from behind him. One larger than the rest came up next to the man growling deep and baring his fangs.

“Down Dusan” the man spoke in strong words. Every wolf seemed to pause in their steps, circling us completely. At mention of ‘Dusan’ the party, minus Thomas since he’d never met him, recognized Thorn, but much much older.

“Who dares enter my realm” Thorn spoke strongly. His eyes moving to each of us.

“To be honest, we don’t know” Simon said plainly. “We didn’t plan to be here believe me.”

“Dusan…you called him Dusan. Is that, actually him” Wren asked motioning to the large wolf next to Thorn.

Thorn grabbed a tuff of Dusan’s hair, then stroked his back slowly. “No, of course not. The real Dusan died long ago.”

“Died, how?” Caiden asked, a bit of confusing in his voice.

“He died alongside Takeo in Trigonum. When his previous party members failed to help, he and Takeo took on the forces alone. They died of course, but not without taking out more than a couple ranks. I barely made it out alive myself.”

“Where were w…I mean the rest of his party?” Caiden asked.

Thorn thought a moment. “Oh, let me think. There was…Simon. He, we never heard from after the split. I, to this day, have no idea where he is.” Thorn thought a moment more. “Wren…died when she went to face the outsiders alone. It was mad of her to even think to do it, but she did it anyway. Guess she really did take after her parents”.

“What…of the Oracle?” Caiden dared to ask.

“The Oracle…you mean, the Oracle of Kal’Dan?” Thorns voice was deep with anger and hatred as he spoke those words.

“No, the Oracle of Mirala’ana.” Caiden spoke again.

Thorn shook his head, trying to remember, growling again. “I vaguely remember something about that, but all I know now is the Oracle of Kal’Dan.” There was more than hatred now, a fear in his voice. He went quiet, thinking about it.

“You must be mistaken, the Oracle of Mirala’ana would never choose that.” Caiden spoke somewhat defiantly.

Thorn growled, as did every wolf in the room. “Of course not. He died, but was wrecked back to this world as the creature that did this. Between him and the outsiders, we were doomed on every angle.”

The party was quiet, trying to decide what to do next, but Thorn made that decision for them.

“Forgive me, but my pets haven’t eaten real meat in some time. Feed my pets.”

There was a quick battle, the wolves taken out fairly easily and Thorn going down. He’d faced many battles, but he was alone. He stood little chance.

The battle over, the party found themselves still in the barren land, unsure what to do next.

The answer came next through Thomas. One moment everything was fine, the next a dark cloaked figure hovered just behind Thomas. A hand rested on his shoulder. The figure made no motion of speech, but as Thomas spoke, we knew he wasn’t the one in control.

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Sessions 59-60
Arrogance and Extinction

Following the stalemate against the wujen, the party locked themselves into the keep’s library and rested. They awoke the folowing morning to discover that the wujen had attempted to lock the library doors.

After Alexandra broke through the Arcane Lock, the party found Culan free of the force trap that had imprisoned him earlier. A brief examination of the inner areas of the keep uncovered the servants’ and living areas of the keep, but no trace of the wujen.

Torn between the desire to end Ling’zhu and prevent the ghost of the mad emperor from returning and the desire to deal with the wujen before facing the dragon overlord himself, the decision was made to attack the dragon.

The party spelled up and broke the seal between the rest of the keep and the dragon’s lair. The ghosts of Angwen and the hisskarssi dragonknights manifested as the doors opened, keeping Ling’zhu from escaping.

The battle against Ling’zhu was truly terrible. Much of the party was paralyzed for the first few seconds, due to the dragon’s spellcasting. Alexandra was caught away from the group, and refused the protection of the dragonknight spirits, sacrificing herself so that the rest of the party stood a chance.

In the end, the eight dragonknight spirits that entered the chambers all sacrificed their souls so that the party would live long enough to bring Ling’zhu to a permanent close.

Less than a minute passed before the wujen reappeared, demanding vengeance for the death of Ling’zhu. The party prepares to enter battle one last time in the depths of Dragon Mountain.

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